Wednesday’s matchup against Orlando City Soccer Club will be a game of several firsts: Orlando’s first visit to Avaya Stadium, the Quakes’ first midweek home game this season and the first time midfielder Darwin Ceren will face his former team since being traded to San Jose last summer.
“I’d say it’s a bit special because I have a lot of friends at the club and a lot of good memories of my teammates and it’s interesting to have them as a rival now,” Ceren reflects when asked about the upcoming matchup.
Ceren arrived in Orlando back in 2014 during the club’s final season in the United Soccer League and became Orlando’s third MLS roster addition. The El Salvador captain enjoyed a stellar debut MLS season in 2015, earning the league’s Latino del Año award, the team’s Player of the Year award and the captain’s armband in Kaká’s absence.
During his time in Florida, Ceren formed a strong partnership on the pitch with Orlando’s Cristian Higuita. The two acted as the midfield motor that powered the Lions’ 4-3-2-1 formation and their complementing abilities placed them among the league’s players with the most tackles and passes at the time. The bond they formed extended off the pitch, too, and with his former club in town, Ceren was able to catch up with his old friend.
“I had the chance to have dinner with [Cristian] Higuita and my family. We’re really good friends and I’ve always viewed him as a brother because we supported each other when I was in Orlando and I have a lot of respect for him. I know the quality of player he is and he thinks the same of me, so I think it’s a wonderful friendship and yesterday we had the opportunity to see each other again after a long time.”
Despite the familiar faces he’ll face on the field on Wednesday night, Ceren knows there’s no holding back.
“Obviously, I want to do things well for my current team and I want to win this game. As I said, I left the team and now that I have the chance to face them, it’s something special. I want to win, I want to do things well and always demonstrate that I’m a good player.”
You can watch Ceren and the Quakes take on the Orlando City SC for just the third time in their history by tuning into NBC Sports California, KNBR 1050 or KZSF 1370. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.